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A presidential speech void of insults and full of ambition

The wealthiest 1% of Americans and large corporations have prospered mightily. Now it’s time for the rest of us.

President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress on Wednesday this week.
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President Joe Biden’s speech to Congress and the nation on Wednesday was a passing of the baton from an era of squeezing American government into a smaller and smaller box (Ronald Reaganism) to a more expansive and supportive role for government (Lyndon Johnsonism).

The wealthiest 1% of Americans and large corporations prospered mightily, even obscenely, during Reaganism. Now it’s time for the rest of us. It is time for a better and more equitable economy.

Mary F. Warren, Wheaton

A speech without insults

Watching President Joe Biden’s speech to Congress last night was like feeling a breath of fresh air. How wonderful to have a person in the White House who has actual plans for the future and a 100-day track record of making some progress on these plans. When the right criticizes him for being too “socialistic” and the left for “not going far enough,” you can be sure he’s on the right track.

Biden touched on all of the major issues facing our nation without once criticizing anyone. The only thing he criticized was inaction.

Jan Goldberg, Riverside

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Toughen up vehicle emissions standards

With the addition this week of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s clean energy legislation, a half dozen proposals in Springfield are now aimed at increasing the clean wind and solar power we build and use. Some of these proposals include getting more electric vehicles on the road and more charging stations built. That is critical; transportation emissions are the biggest single driver of global warming in Illinois and the country. Gasoline and diesel fuels are a huge cause of deadly air pollution. Illinois needs to clean up transportation.

Now that the Biden Environmental Protection Agency has restored California’s ability to set tighter car tailpipe emissions standards and accelerate electric vehicle sales, Pritzker ought to partner with a growing number of other states that are also moving in this direction. Fifteen states, most recently including Virginia and Minnesota, have adopted these better health protections.

The governor should also join a coalition of 15 states that have agreed to adopt tougher California standards for new big trucks and to dramatically increase sales of zero emission electric trucks. Imagine silent trucks that don’t pollute our communities. New Jersey started that official process this month. Doing so in Illinois would mean 50% of smaller trucks and 30% of big rigs sold in 2030 would be non-polluting.

Illinois is home to one of the biggest electric vehicle factories in the country. We all need clean air and a less dangerous climate. Our state needs to move towards the solutions. And we need Gov. Pritzker to lead.

Brian P. Urbaszewski
Direct of Environmental Health Programs
Respiratory Health Association
Chicago

Put yourself in officer’s shoes

Police officers must make millisecond decisions everyday as they work to ensure public safety. Private citizens, on the other hand, have the luxury of viewing police shootings frame by frame. Take, for example, the shooting of Anthony Alvarez. Here was a young man fleeing from the police with a weapon in his hand. The officer instructed him to drop the gun twice, but he didn’t comply. The officer shot.

Had the officer not pursued and shot Alvarez, do we know for sure this young man would not have shot an innocent bystander with the gun he was carrying? Do we know for sure that he would not have walked into a fast food restaurant and opened fire? We can’t say for sure what threat he posed — but we do know the potential for violence was there.

It’s easy to criticize the police after viewing a video frame by frame. It is easy to pass judgment from that safe vantage point and call it a bad shooting. One alderman in his divine wisdom went so far as to say, “It didn’t appear that he was pointing the gun at the officer.”

That is truly Monday morning quarterback.

Before we condemn the police, we must put ourselves in the officer’s shoes and consider the totality of the incident, not just a single frame of a video.

John Livaich, Oak Lawn